Congrats – you’ve almost made it through the semester! Now with exams and assignments looming, you have one blessed week of study before it all starts — SWOTVAC. Yikes. A week sounds like a long time but trust us, it will fly by.

Here are some tips on how to survive SWOTVAC and make the most of it.


1 — Make a study plan or study calendar

A study plan will help to you manage your time efficiently. Breaking down your workload into small, manageable chunks will make it less overwhelming, and save you from that dreaded night-before cram session. First, figure out when your exams are and allocate time to study for each. Next, identify the topics or subjects you find difficult and stake out time to give them extra attention. Remember — it’s important to actually stick to your study plan so you don’t lose track of what you’re doing!


2 — Stay focused, and turn off distractions

We hear you — it’s soo easy to procrastinate or get distracted by scrolling through social media and chatting to friends on messenger, especially while we can’t lock ourselves up in the library at the moment! But, it’s vital to stay focused while you’re studying and not give in to distractions. If you really can’t hold yourself back from checking your phone or tablet when you’re supposed to be studying, try putting it in a far away place and turning it on flight mode, so you’re not tempted to pick it up.

3 — Plan your break times

Studying and understanding the content is the goal, but don’t forget to take regular breaks and rest. Overworking yourself will leave you exhausted, stressed and struggling to get the most out of your study days. For example, you could try a 10-minute break for every hour of studying. This is also a good opportunity to take a break from screen time, especially now that everything is online.


4 — Prepare study materials in advance 

SWOTVAC is the time to consolidate what you’ve learned. Now is the time to catch up on lectures, readings and notes, or dig out the academic sources you’ll need before you dive into memorising a semesters worth of content.


5 — Eat healthy

A healthy diet is key to unlocking the stamina to power through a 3-hour exam, but when you’re stressed it’s easy to let it fall by the wayside. Make sure you’re eating healthy (fruits, veggies, good fats and protein) and not skipping meals. And hard as it may be, try not to overdo the sugar and caffeine. Sugar crashing can affect your concentration. If you ‘need’ caffeine, try to limit your intake to 1-2 cups a day.


6 — Develop a consistent sleep schedule

In a pinch, pulling an all-nighter may seem tempting. But research shows a solid 7-hour night of sleep will have your mind and body operating at their best, and improves information retention. A healthy sleep schedule will also help you wake up for those (objectively evil) early morning online exams.


7 — Take care of your wellbeing 

While grades are important, make sure you’re taking care of your mental health and wellbeing. Exercise, do what relaxes you, and reward yourself for your hard work — you deserve it! If you need support, reach out to a friend or loved one for a chat. There’s also the UniMelb CAPS service free for you to access, which is open throughout exam time and semester breaks.


You’re almost there! Just a couple more weeks to go. Do your best, but don’t forget your value isn’t dependent on your grades. Always prioritise your mental health, and remember that you have a strong support system behind you. Good luck and all the best for your exams and assignments!


The beginning of first semesters at University have a particular magic to them – a sense of newness, re-invention, and of freedom. If you’re a first year, they’re the beginning of a course, shiny like glitter in the sun. If you’re in second or subsequent years, it’s either the opportunity to do better or to build on your previous academic successes; the glitter has hardened but it’s still shiny. If it’s the last year, it’s the beginning of the end (one that you’ll celebrate by never using glitter again because it gets everywhere).

So let’s take a moment to enjoy such a reverie of beginnings.


Ok, so there’s some information that might become useful to you. Something you should keep in the back of your mind; a-break-glass-in-case-of-emergency type deal.

UMSU, your dearest union, is independent from the University. One of its many offerings include an Advocacy Service.

The Advocacy Service consists of a small team of four fabulous senior advocates, a fabulous student services officer and fabulous manager (there’s a whole lotta fabulousness here).

We can help you with most things that relate to your enrolment or academic life here at University, like help you navigate the bureaucracy of special consideration, respond to allegations of misconduct (whether general or academic), or respond to academic progress show cause notices.

We’re here to guide you through what can be complicated procedural stuff, and to do that we also have heaps of info on our website which you can see here: It has guides on the hot topics, links to the policies that relate, and importantly, templates to help you with the important documents. We also have a drop-in service that we operate from 2 pm – 4 pm, Monday to Thursday (last drop in is at 3:45pm). During the drop-in time, we can have a quick chat to you to guide you on your next steps, or if it’s a bit more complicated than that we can allocate you an advocate to help you through the next stage, or give you some more detailed advice.

The best way to get in touch is through our contact form: We monitor this daily and endeavour to respond to your query within 24 hours.

So, hopefully, you won’t need our services. But if you do, don’t hesitate to get in touch.






You’re nearly there at the end. You can’t wait to clear that last exam so you can fall asleep with a straw feeding you milkshake intra-mouthly from that Maccas post-exam feast. It’s only 3 hours and you’re home free.

Sure, you stayed up cramming all night. Sure, you put on 6 alarms 5 minutes apart to get you up.

Sure you may not be altogether there but you are going to make it and it will be the greatest thrill of your life.

But hold on there. You need to know that the University is taking names when it comes to Academic Misconduct.

And that conduct can be intentional or not. Forgot to put your phone/iwatch/fancy calculator that can store notes under the exam table? That’s zero for the whole subject for you my friend. Forgot to turn off your mobile phone? Again, zero for the subject.

Brought in 3 ½ pages of notes when you were only allowed to bring in 3? You guessed it: zero.

You know that front cover sheet that they make you sign at the exam? Here’s some advice: Read it. Pay particular attention to the ‘unauthorised materials’ bit of it.

If you do anything that contravenes what you sign, it will be held against you in the future. Unfortunately, there are no CCTV cameras in the exam venue to prove your innocence. So yeah.

Psst: Check your pockets. Any notes, phones, iwatches or other unauthorised material tucked in there should be fished out and put under the desk.

Yes, the invigilators check.

There’s only so much information a brain can hold. All those books talking about the brain that can heal itself or neuroplasticity of memory can go and stuff themselves.

You know, I know and they know that come exam time, you’re cramming info in there and the anxiety of other info spilling out is real #thestruggle.

To that end, we have organised an oasis of respite just outside the entry of the Exhibition Building (the exam location de jour). Fellow students are there ready with chupa chups, tissues and water for the exam weary and the exam anxious. Oh and if you forget to bring some sort of writing implement or other such stationery you can buy it there for a nominal fee.

Volunteers at the Exam Support Stall: we salute you!

Sometimes, it’s fun to imagine that the pursuit of your education is like a grand quest in the tradition of Lord of the Rings (especially if you are trying to procrastinate). After all, you are after that precious (a.k.a your degree).

Sometimes in pursuit of precious, you might encounter some obstacles much like Frodo did on his way to Mordor (especially if like Frodo you’re not wearing shoes). In the case of illness, orcs, events outside of your control or creepy ghost horses with skeleton riders on their back chasing you, there’s an amulet with restorative powers that may help. Legend foretells of the online form called Special Consideration.

Its specialness derives from its ability to delay the time and date of an exam or to grant a late withdrawal. But, the amulet is not automatically granted.

There is a special time period where the amulet is accessible (up to 4 days after the date of your exam) and requires special supporting documentation to obtain (usually an HPR form or letter completed by a registered health professional).

If the elders at SEDS reject your application, you can ask them to review it. If they still refuse to give you the amulet, you might have grounds to take it up with the Fellowship of the Ring (a.k.a the Academic Registrar).

Wanna find out more? Click here.

There’s something really satisfying about watching Jim Carey over-enunciate and over-emote his lines in Liar Liar. Particularly “I object!”.

It’d be great to have that recording on your phone when you’re at Union House ordering two curries and rice and the ratio of juice/curry to rice is #sad or when the library only has 2 copies of the first book that appears in your week’s reading list in a class of 150 students.

The same impulse may emerge when you get your marks back from an assessment you submitted or an exam. If you do, there’s a couple of things to note. You can request feedback on how you sized up against the marking rubric or assessment criteria (usually found in your subject outline). Note that you’re entitled to seek feedback but you’re not entitled to get remarked just for any reason. You actually need to make a case for it.

So, here comes the technical boring bit that I need you to focus on for a wee bit. I promise to make it worth your while. Ok, so you can request a review of your mark on either academic judgement or procedural issues.

The first means that you’re getting the department’s academic opinion about your work and whether it was marked correctly in reference to said rubric/criteria.

The second relates to whether the department followed the University’s assessment policies. Be warned: if you are successful in getting the department to look at your work again, there are three possible outcomes. That you get a higher mark. That you get the same mark. That you get a lower mark. Yep, you read correctly. Just keep in mind that some disputes are worth pursuing and some become planet vampires that suck your energy with their own gravitational pull.

If you’d like to get some advice about it, contact the Advocacy Service. Ok, I said I would make it worth your while.

Click here for kittens and puppies.

Remember when in year nine your Insta was so on point? You were the first to post an artsy photo of The Hunger Games movie tix, the first to rock sepia-toned photos of St Kilda beach because nature and beauty and the first to post a three-part photo series showing people’s hands on their laps riding on public transport?

So deep.

And then what’s-their-name in your year started to copy everything you posted…even the retrospective of hands on public transport. Such a copycat. You felt angry that someone was stealing your brilliance and originality. How dare they. And some stupid adult said something about imitation being the highest form of flattery. Stupid adults with clichéd words of advice.

Well, to labour the point ad nauseam, the same does not apply in academia.

In these hallowed halls of knowledge, if you intentionally or unintentionally copy another student’s work, or stuff off the interwebs or from some know-it-all expert bloke or lady in a journal article or book, you will very probably be found out by either Turnitin or the actual tutor correcting your work. The University takes this as seriously as you did you Insta back then.

So, in this crazy world of footnotes and acknowledging your sources, what to do? Well, first off, familiarise yourself with the rules. Second, make sure you reference the crap out of everything in text via footnotes or endnotes AND in your reference list/bibliography at the end. Don’t know where to begin? Ask a friendly librarian what referencing style is used in your faculty.  Thirdly, if you do get into trouble, seek help from the Advocacy Service. Pronto.

This post was brought to you by the UMSU Advocacy Service.

They have a combined educational experience of approximately 500 years. Their collective HECS debt is zero per cent of your business. They call themselves ‘the justice league of UMSU’ (they have a poster on their wall to prove it). They are: the most interesting advocates in the world*.

*They are very likely not the most interesting advocates in the world.

Special C is similar to Special K* in that it isn’t.

One is an application for special consideration that you make online when (clears throat) “exceptional or extenuating circumstances outside of your control” have had a “demonstrated impact on your ability to complete academic requirements” while the other is an artificial squishing of one of humanity’s oldest crops into the unsatisfying palatability of cardboard.

Much like Special K progressing through your digestive system, Special C should go through the University’s administrative system easily enough. Sometimes, a (ahem) blockage occurs either at SEDS, the faculty or review stage. The Advocacy Service may be the Metamucil that gets you going again.

We can advise you on how the system works, what the policy says on the issue and what results common practice have yielded. Even if we can’t get the blockage removed, you can at least have peace of mind knowing that you got a third party to have look at the, um, situation.

Also, if it’s more of a long term thing, then you might want to consider registering for Special C. But that’s another fandango.

Wanna know more? Click here.

*We know you’re thinking about the other other Special K. Yeah, no.

This post was brought to you by the UMSU Advocacy Service.

They have a combined educational experience of approximately 500 years. Their collective HECS debt is zero per cent of your business. They call themselves ‘the justice league of UMSU’ (they have a poster on their wall to prove it). They are: the most interesting advocates in the world*.

*They are very likely not the most interesting advocates in the world.

Inevitably, in a long enough academic timeline, you will be required to participate in group work where you’re either lumped with doing all the work or you’re paired up with a control freak who insists on doing all the work. Either option is as pretty as that damned pimple on your nose that just keeps on getting bigger.

Allow us to be the Clearasil of your group work troubles.

First off, pay attention to that damned subject outline (that’s the equivalent of a bank’s small print when applying for a car loan). When it describes the assessment, does it say that you will be marked individually but can work in groups? If so, be aware to present your own work in the final instance. When it becomes murky who did what and who copied from who, the lecturer/tutor is obliged under university policy to report you and your group to the faculty for collusion (a.k.a Academic Misconduct). This process could result in you getting a fail for the WHOLE subject (even if your group work is only weighted 3% of your final mark).

To avoid these pitfalls, keep track of your contribution in, say, a diary or any other written form. This could come in handy in proving that the work that you presented is your own. Ultimately, working in a group can be a great experience or one that brings you to the brink of wanting to pull your hair out. Either way: remember that group work is much like a ménage à trois. To go smoothly, everyone should be on the same page, equally engaged and active.

That, my friends, requires communication.

This post was brought to you by the UMSU Advocacy Service.

They have a combined educational experience of approximately 500 years. Their collective HECS debt is zero per cent of your business. They call themselves ‘the justice league of UMSU’ (they have a poster on their wall to prove it). They are: the most interesting advocates in the world*.

*They are very likely not the most interesting advocates in the world.